windows opening out upon country which is as "yet
unknown. It can never be regarded as a self-complete
It may be true on the one hand that, so long as there
exists no better instrument in the world than a wooden
pipe, a serious limitation is bound to restrict the kind of
music which it is possible to produce. And provided
this example is taken as a mere illustration and not
pressed overmuch, it stands as the symbol of the case'
for an attempt to interpret the past through the study]
of dje materialist basis of history. One point it is
absolutely necessary to press, however. In the case of
the wooden pipe, the frontiers that are set to any enter-'
prise of the mind are like the fencing round a house;
they may block lateral expansion on any side, while still
leaving room to soar, still leaving everything up to
heaven wide open for tthe creative activity of human
beings. The wooden pipe is tightly constrained and
closely confined all round, but it is open at both ends
and within the limiting terms of it there is still a sense
in which human ingenuity and creativeness might hardly
know a limit. The limiting conditions do themselves
become opportunities for creative minds. And that
is one of the reasons why material conditions are a matter
of moment *even for the great epic of human history.
They are also springboards for human beings. Always we
return to the fact that it is human beings who make history.
Furthermore, there are some people—and the Marxists
themselves, paradoxically enough, are amongst them
sometimes—who seem to see in history a course of
continuous inbreeding. They argue that the men who